By Matt Fotia
It was a big weekend of football across all divisions of the AFL Outer East, as some of the ladder leaders flexed their muscles and showed their class, whilst in Division One the conclusion of the split round means every club has played each other and should have more clarity on where they sit.
Read about it all here, in the Football Review.
1. Swooping Season
It might not be Spring just yet, but the Narre Warren Magpies are looking set to swoop in the AFL Outer East Premier Division after they defeated Woori Yallock by 66 points on the weekend, giving themselves and Berwick an eight point break on the chasing pack.
The Magpies aren’t spoken about nearly as much as their rivals the Wickers, but they are just as dangerous, if not more. Their precise ball movement was the difference on Saturday against the Tigers.
Woori Yallock had their chances across the afternoon but missed crucial opportunities at key moments, with key forward Ben Monkhorst the main culprit booting 2.5 (with a couple out on the full) for the day. The Tigers, in stark contrast to their opponents, moved the ball forwards in a much more scrappy manner and were unable hold their position like their counterparts in Black and White.
At almost all stoppages around the ground the Tigers wingman or players standing off the contest would position themselves on the inside of their opponent, preferring to be closer to the competing ruckmen, thus giving their opponents access to the centre corridor.
This meant each time that Dylan Quirk and co got first hands on the ball they were able to release outside runners such as Josh Tonna and Nathan Foote, who would either deliver the ball inside forward fifty under little to no pressure or stream away from the contest with freedom.
If Woori Yallock were able to get first access to the ball, players like Tonna and Foote could close in on the ball carrier, forcing them to be elite with a chain of quick handballs, kick the ball forwards in a rushed manner or be wrapped up in a hard hitting tackle.
Statistically the game was even – the Magpies were just slicker and smarter.
2. Season Starts Now
Throughout pre-season Division One was predicted to be the most even of the three divisions. None of the sides contained within had tasted consistent success in the preceding years and it was difficult to know where they would sit when pitted against each other with no obvious yardstick.
After eight rounds that prediction is both true and untrue.
The top five is very even.
As are the bottom three.
But there is now a distinct gap between the two sections, with the final five more or less locked in.
Belgrave, Emerald and Warburton Millgrove have all grabbed victories against each other, whilst the top five has a similar situation barring Monbulk, who could easily have lost games against Doveton and Mount Evelyn.
All clubs in the Division should be clear on where they sit and will now be able to reset, recalibrate and redefine their goals for the season.
For the bottom three finals are all but off the table and their focus will no doubt drift away from the Wins and Losses columns and centre move on list development with an eye for 2020 and beyond.
The top five will continue focusing on next week, because as much as their participation in finals has been very nearly locked in, their final position within the five is by no way certain making the next month of football a massive one.
Officer host Doveton and Pakenham before they travel to Monbulk. The Doves play the Lions as well as the Roos, Monbulk host Mount Evelyn along with Officer and the Rovers host Pakenham in Round 11.
The Division One season starts now.
3. Lakers Lament
When Kinglake kicked the opening goal in their clash against Yarra Junction last weekend, it seemed that the Lakers were ready to prove to the whole competition, not just the division, that they were genuine contenders for the premiership.
But seven days later Kinglake have been on the end of two thumpings from last seasons grand finalists and look a fair bit off the pace. With the fixture mirroring the first half of the season, Kinglake will have to wait a while for their shot at redemption.
The fact they don’t have to take on Yarra Junction and Seville until the back end of the season is a double edged sword.
On the one hand they can build momentum once again and look to regain their early season form against opponents they’ve already quashed once this season. Games against Yea and Thornton Eildon will also provide opportunities for the Lakers to experiment with different systems that might help them against the current top two.
On the other hand facing the two best sides in the competition on the eve of their first finals campaign since 2016 could really put a dent in the Lakers confidence – a key ingredient to a successful finals campaign.
For the moment Andrew Fairchild’s men will be happy to see the back of Yarra Junction and Seville. First things first they need to get back on the winners list with a win against Gembrook-Cockatoo this weekend.
Then they can worry about all of the above.
4. Shinboner Spirit
Thornton Eildon have won their first game of senior football in almost two years, knocking off Yea by three points 9.12 (66) to 9.9(63), thanks to a Shane Barrand goal after the siren.
It’s their first win since July 29 2017, also against the Tigers.
WATCH | The Last 90 Seconds of Thornton Eildon's last gasp win over Yea to grab their first win since July 29, 2017 – also against the Tigers.
— AFL OUTER EAST (@AFL_OE) June 16, 2019
The Shinboners dominated the first quarter to lead by 14 points at the first change before the Tigers brought the margin back to just one point at the main interval and went on to lead at the last change by four points, thanks to some inaccurate goal kicking by the Roos.
The Tigers had a chance to put the game beyond doubt late in the final quarter but could only add a behind to their score, giving the Roos once last chance.
Jackson Lowe, one of Thornton’s best players on the day, took the kick out and looked for his ruckman and captain Deng Nai, who despite not marking the ball was able to flick a quick handball to a nearby teammate, streaming past.
His kick found another man in blue and white, who quickly played on finding the safe hands and ultimately safe boots of Barrand who went back to kick his second for the afternoon and one he’ll never forget.
The Shinboners win is a well earned reward for all of those involved on the Thornton Eildon committee, especially president Dave Stirling and coach Darryn Leaumont.
For all the negativity in the footballing landscape at this current moment, both on a national and country level, moments like Barrand’s goal remind us of what football is all about and the pure joy it can bring.